Today’s post features an interview with Athos Vieira, a historian from Brazil, who recently completed a Ph.D. in sociology from Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. Athos recently authored ‘Cocaine and the night: The social life of a drug in Rio de Janeiro during Brazil’s First Republic, 1885-1920s‘ in the upcoming Fall 2022 issue of the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs. Find out more about Athos’ background and article in this interview.
Editor’s Note: Points continues its series of interviews with authors from the latest issue of ADHS’s journal Social History of Alcohol and Drugs (vol. 34, no. 2; Fall 2020), published by the University of Chicago Press. Today we feature Mariana Broglia de Moura, a doctoral candidate at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris, France). You can see her article here. Contact the University of Chicago Press to subscribe to the journal or request access to this article, or any other article from SHAD’s history.
Tell readers a little bit about yourself
I am a PhD student at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris. During my doctoral studies, I benefited from a scholarship from the Labex TEPSIS, and I am attached to the laboratories Centre Maurice Halbwachs (ENS) and Mondes Américains (EHESS) under the supervision of Benoît de l’Estoile and Mônica Schpun. My research has been greatly enriched by a stay at the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare of the University of Strathclyde (Scotland) where I studied with Jim Mills. I’ve had the opportunity to publish various articles about the history of Brazilian drugs policies.
What got you interested in drugs (and their history)?
My interest in drugs came initially as a result of my Master’s Thesis, which lay at the intersection of the anthropology of health and of the history of science. I wrote about the emergence of the categories of behavioural addictions—specifically sexual addiction—in France. I wanted to understand the transformations in the field of sexuality since the 19th century, which have led us to frame a relationship to sexuality in terms of “addiction.” And, in the field of addiction, how addiction—which initially referred to the use of substances—was then extended during the 20th century to encompass a whole range of behaviours. This went hand-in-hand with a reflection about the extension of the new medical power of addictology, which led to the emergence of new social and professional actors. I also investigated preventive policies for behaviours which are socially and economically incited, but whose abuses need to be controlled.
The year I finished my Master’s Thesis, the city of São Paulo, Brazil, began to implement a very interesting public policy on drugs called “Open Arms,” which focused on Cracolândia, a long-standing site of crack cocaine consumption in the city. This program aimed to help drug users improve their precarious situations, by providing them with access to housing, work, training, and healthcare, without requiring them—at least theoretically—to abstain from drugs. This program was part of a broader policy of gentrification of the inner city.